Go ahead with Google’s Pixel 7: Fresh design, new camera features at the same price

Google’s Pixel 7, which was was announced on Thursday, it’s the company’s next major phone meant to compete Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices. The Pixel 7 will have Google’s new Tensor G2 processor, a camera with improved zoom, face unlock and a slightly updated design — for the same $599 (£599, AU$999) price as last year Pixel 6.

The Pixel 7 launches on October 13, with pre-orders available now.

The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro represent Google’s latest attempt to establish a foothold in the global smartphone market, which is largely dominated by Samsung and Apple. The Pixel 7 is a modest upgrade, unlike last year’s Pixel 6, which was the first phone to feature Google’s proprietary Tensor processor and a refreshed design. The debut of the Pixel 7 also follows the September launch Apple’s iPhone 14which like the Pixel 7 has only minor improvements over its predecessor.

Google’s latest flagship phones are now available for pre-order. The Pixel 7 starts at $599 and will be released on October 13. Get up to $750 off trade-ins and $200 in Google Store credit.

Read the first shot of the Pixel 7.

The new Google Pixel 7 camera

Google Pixel 7 in white on a wooden background

Google’s Pixel 7 has a new camera lineup.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Pixel 7 camera might look like this Pixel 6 on paper, but there are some behind-the-scenes changes that Google said should make a difference. This is especially true when it comes to zoom quality.

When you zoom in 2x, the Pixel 7’s main 50-megapixel sensor is trimmed to 12.5 megapixels in the middle, which Google said should deliver a sharp image similar to the quality of a 2x optical lens. The Pixel 7 can also zoom up to 8x digitally, slightly more zoom than the Pixel 6’s 7x zoom. I took some photos at 2x zoom in Google’s demo room, and they looked sharp, but it’s nearly impossible to say them confidently on a screen so small.

However, only the Pixel 7 Pro has a 48-megapixel telephoto lens that can zoom up to 5x optically and 30x digitally. The Pixel 7 Pro also gets a new macro photography feature that won’t be on the regular Pixel 7.

Night Sight is also said to work faster on both phones, which should make it easier to take photos in dim environments without blur from shaky hands. Google also said it was updated Real tonethe camera mode is designed to capture more accurate skin tones, to further reduce noise and improve images taken in low light.

The new Google Pixel phones it will also have a new camera feature that aims to help those who are blind or have low vision take selfies more easily. The feature, called Guided Frame, aurally tells the user how to position the phone to properly frame a selfie. Google said this feature will be available for all phones with Tensor.

Now playing:
Watch this:

Watch Google’s Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Reveal


Photo Unblur, meanwhile, can enhance old photos to look more in focus, building on the Face Unblur feature Google introduced last year. It’s a new tool that you’ll be able to access from the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro’s editing menu, and it’s exclusive to Google’s new phones because it’s based on the company’s new Tensor G2 processor.

The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro also get some video enhancements, like Cinematic Blur, which is essentially Portrait mode for video. It’s very similar to Apple’s Cinematic Mode, which it introduced last year in the iPhone 13.

These upgrades appear to be enhancements of features that Google has already introduced rather than entirely new features, except for Cinema Mode, Photo Unblur, and Guided Frame. But together, they should make Google’s already impressive camera stand out even more.

Google Pixel 7: Face unlock, screen size, design and other details

Google's Pixel 7 seen from the front against a wooden background.

Google’s Pixel 7 has a 6.3-inch display.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

In terms of size, the Pixel 7’s 6.3-inch screen makes it slightly smaller than the 6.4-inch Pixel 6 but larger than the 6.1-inch Pixel 6A. I’ve only spent a few minutes using the Pixel 7, but it seems pretty easy to operate with one hand so far. Not much else has changed here. The Pixel 7’s display has the same 2,400×1,080 pixel resolution as the Pixel 6, but with slightly more pixels per inch (416 vs. 411 ppi) given its smaller size. Like its predecessor, the OLED display can also boost up to 90Hz for smoother scrolling.

But there’s another major difference on the front of the Pixel 7. The selfie camera, which has had a resolution upgrade to 10.8 megapixels compared to the Pixel 6’s 8 megapixels, now supports face unlock. However, Google warns that face unlock is less secure than the Pixel’s under-display fingerprint sensor or a PIN. As such, it positions Face Unlock as a more convenient way to unlock your phone rather than an authentication method for payments and other sensitive tasks.

The back of the phone also gets a refresh. While the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro generally retain the same design language as their bigger siblings, each has a new metal camera bar that’s sharper than those found on the Pixel 6 series. The Pixel 7 will be available in black, white and pale yellow, which Google calls obsidian, snow and lemongrass.

The snowy Pixel 7 has a silver metallic, matte camera bar and matching bezels that blend nicely with its glossy white exterior. The new look of the camera bar also makes it pop more and draws more attention to the camera lenses. On the Pixel 6, the lenses seem to blend in with the camera line itself.

Google's Pixel 7 (next) left to Pixel 6 (right) on a wooden background

Google’s Pixel 7 (next) left to Pixel 6 (right).

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Both phones support 5G, but access to superfast (but limited space) 5G millimeter wave connectivity varies by provider. Unlocked, the AT&T and Verizon versions will support millimeter wave 5G, while only the Pixel 7 Pro will support it on T-Mobile’s network. Google said both Pixel phones should last more than 24 hours on a single charge and up to 72 hours with Extreme Battery Saver enabled. Both phones also support wireless charging and can top up their batteries up to 50% in 30 minutes with Google’s 30-watt charger, which is sold separately.

Google promises five years of security updates and three years of general Android OS updates for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, just like the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Samsung, on the other hand, supports four years of Android OS upgrades for its latest Galaxy phones.

Google also discussed some of the new features it will bring to Pixel phones later this year. Will offer VPN service from Google One service on Pixel 7 and 7 Pro for free. Audio messages will also show short transcripts so you don’t have to listen to the messages out loud.

The Voice Recorder app is also getting an update that will add speaker tags to make it easier to distinguish between speakers in a conversation. And Direct My Call, which transcribes automated phone menus, will display the menu in text form immediately, so you don’t have to wait for the operator to verbalize all the options. This feature will be available at launch.

Early thoughts on the Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7

Google’s Pixel 7 shows it still hopes to compete for market share with Apple and Samsung.

Google/Image by Katie Collins/CNET

The Pixel 7 is a slight upgrade over last year’s Pixel 6, but it underscores Google’s approach to smartphones. It’s another sign that Google hopes to compete with Apple and Samsung by lowering their prices, introducing exclusive software features and focusing on camera quality.

The fact that Google managed to keep the price of the Pixel 7 in the US the same is also significant. While Apple hasn’t technically increased the price of the iPhone 14 compared to the iPhone 13, it is no longer offering a cheaper “Mini” version of the iPhone 14 as it has done for the past two years. This means that the barrier to entry for Apple’s newest iPhones is slightly higher than it has been in the last couple of years.

We’ll know more once we’ve had a chance to test the Pixel 7 and see how much of an upgrade it really is over the Pixel 6.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *